compliments

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Me and the kids

How do you take a compliment?  Wait.  First, a few examples of compliments I have received from my children: You’re hair is so tangly and pretty!  I like that purple eyeshadow under your eyes.  You’re head is so big and nice.  I’m prettier than you, but your still pretty.  You’re ponytail is a cute black poof ball! (always with the hair…).

Brutal honesty, right?  That is what we get from our children, especially in their younger years when they just blurt out everything they are thinking.  To be honest, I love the way they observe us in their innocent and non-judgmental way.  They way they don’t care about morning breath, bedhead, a pimple or an age spot.  When Michael told Ella her braces were beautiful, I nearly cried-not because he was right but because he really feels it and believes it.  And while it is hard to hear sometimes, they remind us all the time of our most basic selves.  Lily thinks my frizzy hair is “cute”.  Ella still likes to go into my closet and put on my shoes and clothes.  Michael laughs really hard when I do a mediocre impression of someone or use a silly accent.  I like the “compliments” our children sincerely offer.  In fact, as I attempt to wrap this up with Lily chatting away next to me, I glance over and she says, “Hey! Why are you staring at me?  Oh, I know-because I am beautiful.  You are too mama-that’s why I love you so much!”

Do your kids “compliment” you?  Do you like it or does it make you feel more critical of yourself?

Side Dish #2: Roasted Potatoes

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Potatoes are easy, I know.  We roast, bake, boil, etc…and end up with something to take up space on the plate.  I for one am growing tired of potatoes and don’t feel like my family even cares to have them.  However, there is one way I have found to make potatoes less than boring and tasty enough that Ella gets excited when I tell her they are on the menu (she is our potato-loving child).  Once you make these a few times, you can embellish and change it up.  I think bacon and cheddar would be a yummy twist, also tarragon and a little dry mustard.  You can also use a seasoning you favor in your pantry-think, season salt or garlic pepper seasoning.  For the recipe below, I am going with our basic standby-something I think you will like a whole lot.  Oh, a quick note-I usually use Russet potatoes but have also used red and gold too.  Yukon golds are sweeter and require a little less cook time, so keep that in mind when choosing.

Roasted Potatoes

6-8 potatoes

1 fresh sprig of rosemary, chopped

2 tblsp olive oil

salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs

2 tblsp grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.  Clean and cut your potatoes into 1/2-inch wedges.  In a large bowl toss the potatoes, rosemary, salt, pepper and olive oil until all the potatoes are coated.  Spread onto the lined cookie sheet and roast for approximately 20-35 minutes.  Remove the pan and coat the potatoes evenly with the breadcrumbs and cheese.  Return to the oven and broil on low for about 10 more minutes.  Serve and enjoy!

The breadcrumbs and Parmesan that falls between the potatoes will create this deliciously crunchy layer of goodness on the baking sheet.  You can scrape that into the serving bowl with the potatoes or you might sneakily pick at it and keep it all to yourself while you get the rest of dinner on the table.  No judgement if you choose the latter.

Side Dish #1: Flowering Kale

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I know that all the kale hype can be irritating.  What used to simply garnish your breakfast plate at Denny’s is now featured in nearly every cookbook or cooking magazine published since 2008.  “Put it in smoothies!”  “Saute and add to pasta dishes!” “Stir it into soups before serving!” (we actually do this a lot) “Puree and sneak it into your kid’s mac and cheese!”  “Rub it on your face!”  Well, maybe that last one hasn’t been truly vetted, but I would bet there is someone out there dying to tell us how beneficial it is.

So, in my attempt to get on board with kale, and to bring along my family, I have been trying out a few recipes that make kale the centerpiece rather than an addition to something else we already eat.  The one I share today is really delicious and uses flowering kale, a variety with an easy and highly palatable texture.  Ella’s mom gave it to me after she stumbled upon it shopping at our local grocery store.  I don’t always add the tomatoes unless I think I will have enough left over to have for lunch the next day.  When I do add them, I do it at the very end in order to retain the tomato skin integrity-I prefer the skin to stay intact and attached to the fruit.  I also think it would be delicious to add a handful of toasted pine nuts to give it a little crunch.  Our whole family enjoys it, I hope you do too.

Flowering Kale

2 cloves crushed garlic

3 tblsp olive oil

2-3 heads flowering kale (about 6-8 cups uncooked)

1 tsp salt

fresh cracked pepper

3 tblsp balsamic vinegar

2 tblsp grated romano or parmesan cheese

*Optional: 1 cup sliced cherry or grape tomatoes and/or 2 tblsp toasted pine nuts

Heat the oil and garlic on medium heat in a large, heavy bottomed pot until the garlic is soft, but not brown.  Add the kale and stir until it is coated with the oil and garlic.  Reduce the heat to medium low and cover with a lid, stirring occasionally -this allows the kale to steam and soften.  Once the kale is reduced by half in the pot, add the salt, pepper, balsamic and grated cheese.  Stir and remove from heat.  *Now is the time to toss in the tomatoes or pine nuts if you wish. 

We serve this with a nice piece of roasted salmon, or alongside a grilled piece of meat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

why we stay

Who doesn't love handfuls of lip gloss?

Who doesn’t love handfuls of lip gloss?

Does it matter?  Where you live, I mean.  Are you not the same person?  Raise the same children?  Might you become someone else, in fact, if you lived in a different place?  I should hope I would remain the same; hope I would hold the same set of values, following the only parenting instinct I seem to know at this stage in my life.  You see, I always claimed that moving would yield the same life but in a different place.  I have been so insightful and  so wise to guide that “the same problems you have here, you are sure to have someplace else.”  The irony, and of course there is irony, I don’t really know that to be true because I have never made a major move.  This was a topic of discussion earlier today with friends-one in particular, who suggested that moving is sure to offer more opportunity, more serenity, more…well, just more.  We disagreed.  I would desperately miss a night out with good friends and our conversations about the possibility of a life in a different city.  Note* the picture above is of my hands full of Renee’s lipsticks-I raided her handbag for them.

Truth is, we feel most at home when we are lucky enough to have these kinds conversations with friends.  Real friends.  Good people.  The kind of friends you have these types of conversations with.  No doubt there are better climates across the country.  Certainly there are greener trees and year-round gardens to reap.  I would be lying if I was one of those Clevelanders who balks at winter and feigns pleasant tolerance of an April that averages 36 degrees.  However, our parents are a morning’s drive away.  My close neighbors are close friends.    And, while we know children to be resilient and flexible, the reality is, they were born here-this is the life they know, the place they love.

I love this place too. I know I would love to be just about anywhere as long as Cory, Ella, Michael and Lily Fisher are there with me.  That’s not all though.  It takes knowing you have family and friends close by.  A carpool you can rely upon.  A neighbor who can spare an egg or a a stick of butter.  It takes a friend you can have a late night conversation with to remind you that home is wherever you might happen to settle.  Frankly, that’s why we stay.  Sure, anyone can begin again and make new friends, find a favorite grocer, meet and befriend a new neighbor.  Eventually, you find yourself with the life you left behind, with a new cast of characters.  The only hopeful difference?  It’s sunnier.

and the lipstick song…

Lily and Cory before ballet last Friday.

Lily and Cory before ballet last Friday.

Topnotch alliteration isn’t the only reason for the name of my blog.  I mentioned before that Lily really loves lipstick.  You should know this: Lily isn’t allowed to have her own “lipstick”.  “Lipstick” in our house is anything that can go on the lips to either a.) moisturize, b.) beautify, or c.) both.  Lip balm is actually what we banned a few months ago when we found her repeatedly slathering it on her lips and the immediate space around her mouth.  She also had managed to get it into her bedroom carpet a few times, this basically put Cory over the edge.  I was willing to give it a third or fourth chance until the day of Michael’s holiday concert at Eastview Elementary when she fidgeted and cried because her “lipstick” came off and she needed to reapply.  I reapply.  I am also very close to the age of 38 and quite skilled in “lipstick” application.  That put me over the edge. So our little Lily does in fact remind us each day of her lipstick woes.  Since I told her that she might have them in her possession when she is older, she sweetly asks me on occasion, “Am I still four?” (only she says “four” in that cute toddlery way- “Fohl”.  Sigh.
So now it has been at least 3 months since the takeover and we were treated yesterday to an impromptu song by Lily, pink acoustic guitar in hand.  A one, a two, a one, two, three, four:

“I’m a little teapot, I’m a little teapot, I got five lipsticks in my teapot and they’re all mine and I don’t share them and I keep them in my room and they’re all my lipsticks.”

I have to applaud her determination.  This is one fight she isn’t going to give up.  But those of you who know Lily, know that she is a fighter (but the good kind who will, I hope, always fight for what she believes in).  We tell her, “No big deal, babe-lipstick isn’t important!”  She scoffs and shoots us a look I am certain I too possess, as if to say, “(Expletive) you.  When I get biggohl, I will drink coffee and chew gum and have my own lipsticks.”  All of these things, I do not doubt.

Capital Number 1.

Easter at Grandma and Papa's

Easter at Grandma and Papa’s

Only parents of toddlers have conversations about why it’s best to wear shoes in public places, why crayons are meant for coloring, not eating, and why drywall doesn’t “come” painted when you buy it (yes, that was a question once).  Today Michael really needed to know why numbers are not written in either capital or lowercase fashion.  “Look mom!  That capital I is a lowercase number 1!”  I suppose to a 4 year-old, this is exactly right–and, depending on how you write a number 1, it may very well resemble your capital I.  Ok, see?  I am rationalizing it, or explaining the hard to explain.  He has never been a boy who accepts, “because”, or “that’s just the way it is”, without probing further in order to reach a clearer understanding.  He is a boy of many questions, and for all the facets of his personality that seem to grow and evolve, this one questioning aspect remains the same.
One evening when he got out of bed to use the bathroom, he asked, “What do you do while I am sleeping?  Do you and daddy sleep?”  Yes, my love, we sleep, but only when you are.